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15 Different Types of Tractors and Their Uses


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Most of the time, whenever anyone even mentions a tractor, you will probably think of Farmer Brown or Old MacDonald sitting atop an old red or green John Deere. 

While that in itself isn’t wrong by any means, it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what tractors look or sound like. That is because you can actually use the term “tractor” interchangeably with any vehicle that dispenses high traction at low speeds.

But if that’s the case, how can we actually differentiate between them all? After all, there are so many different types of tractors around and we can’t just refer to them all with the umbrella term “tractor”, right?

Well, luckily, you can categorize all the different types of tractors based on the specific tasks they are meant to help you with on the farm.

So, if you’re interested in finding out what these different types of tractors are and what they’re meant for, you can always just check out the following list:

1. Garden Tractors

Garden Tractors

By far one of the smallest types of tractors around, garden or lawn tractors are only really used to mow the grass or prep the area for planting a garden.

As such, they don’t need a lot of horsepower, with most of them barely scrounging up around ten horsepower in total.

There are a lot of different options you could go for if you’re looking to get your hands on a garden tractor, with well over 100 different models on the market right now.

They can be used for a lot more than you’d think too, but because of how many models there are, always make sure to keep in mind the performance, size and attachments that the tractor comes with.

Make sure to also look into the manufacturer and model before you make your purchase too so you don’t regret it at the end.

2. Orchard Tractors

Orchard Tractor
Photo by Mirko Fabian / Pixabay

While they are a bit larger than garden tractors, orchard tractors are still considered to be on the smaller side, with their main purpose being the tending of orchards.

Orchard tractors are a bit taller than most other tractors too, which is mostly so that the farmers can see and work with their orchards better.

On top of that, the higher you’re sitting, the easier it’ll be for you to get to the fruit and nuts that the trees have to offer.

Most of the time you’ll also find a wagon attached to the orchard tractor. This is where the farmers tend to put their harvested fruits or whatever they get their hands on while farming.

3. Artillery Tractors

Artillery Tractor
Photo by Vic E / Wikipedia.org

Coming up next, we have a type of tractor you don’t see every day, and for good reason too. Artillery tractors are exclusively military vehicles, as they took ordinary tractors and decided to reinforce their frames to be able to withstand the blast of a land mine with ease.

They are actively used in war zones even to this day and while you won’t really have to worry about owning any artillery tractors anytime soon, it is still interesting to see just how sturdy these bad boys can be.

They can also be used for demolition purposes, as they can easily get into dangerous spots and escape without a scratch.

4. Autonomous Tractors

Autonomous Tractor

Right here we have a pretty good testament of the fact that humanity will always search for ways to not have to do the work they’re supposed to do.

All jokes aside, these autonomous tractors are quite fascinating to see, as they use an AI to pilot the vehicle, and this AI can pretty much do everything and anything you could ever do without you even having to worry about it in the slightest.

If you want to be a bit more active in the work, you can always just control the autonomous tractors from afar using a remote.

We joked about this being a lazy way of doing things, but at the end of the day this may be the only option you have if you happen to own very large farmlands and you don’t want to spend too much on so many different workers at once.

5. Industrial Tractors

Industrial Tractor

Also commonly referred to as tuggers, these industrial tractors are meant to be used in industrial settings, such as construction sites and whatnot.

This is why they use a drawbar, as they have plenty of implements attached to them at all times such as crane booms.

On top of that they typically have four-wheel drive because they are meant to be used off-road, and of course they need good traction in order to pull heavy loads with ease.

As opposed to agricultural tractors, industrial tractors are considered to be heavy-duty equipment, and as such they have a lot more horsepower and they’re a lot sturdier than you’d think.

6. Earth Moving Tractors

Earth Moving Tractor
Photo by Troy Mortier / Unsplash.com

Earth-moving tractors need to be very powerful and heavy, because, as the name implies, they’re meant to push around very heavy loads.

You can get them in both tire and track configurations, and they are amongst the most commonly used tractors on construction sites such as dams or quarries.

They are usually used to move soil or even dig holes, so if you ever see a basement or anything of that sort just know that an earth moving tractor was most likely used right there.

These earth moving tractors are meant to be some of the sturdiest tractors your money could get you, so you should expect them to also cost you a fortune to get. But if you do need something big to be moved, you can’t go wrong with an earth moving tractor.

7. Row Crop Tractors

Row Crop Tractor

As the name implies, the row crop tractors are used to tend to fields where farmers sow crops in a row. They are very versatile and easy to use, and they’re meant to be universal crop helpers.

What this means is that you can use them for any and all agricultural tasks, including but not limited to plowing, leveling, dragging seed drills, harrowing and harvesting.

But why would you pick a row crop tractor over a simple garden tractor? Well, the fact of the matter is that these row crop tractors have increased ground clearance, they’re easier to steer quick on their wheels, on top of also having good row spacing.

They are a bit more expensive than we’d like them to be though, so if you want to keep your money for now and invest in something more affordable, you’re always welcome to do that too.

8. Rotary Tractors

Rotary Tractor
Photo by Wolfgang Ehrecke / Pixabay.com

Rotary tractors are a bit strange, as they are a walking-type that can be used in smaller fields on the hill. This is because at that point, the fields are at different height levels, which works in the rotary tractors’ favor because it can easily adjust to any level whatsoever.

Another interesting part about rotary tractors is that you can’t actually use most forms of equipment on it, quite the contrary actually.

They usually come with blades that can be used to plat seedbeds on the farm, which makes them quite proficient if you happen to be working on a hill.

Mahindra tools are also considered to be amongst the best too, so if you want to get the best bang for your buck you should definitely invest in a rotary tiller from them.

9. Two-Wheel Tractors

Two-Wheel Tractor

Two-wheel tractors are a bit on the smaller and lighter side, and they are mainly used for tiling, plowing or towing small equipment such as harvesters, seeding equipment and trailers.

They are often times referred to as single-axle tractors or walk-behind tractors too, and they are seen on most small farms and gardens due to how compact they are and how easy they are to maneuver.

This type of tractor is usually powered by small gasoline engines, and they typically have operators walk behind them as they operate them through a remote.

10. Implement Carrier Tractors

Implement Carrier Tractor

While tractors are amazing tools to use around your farm, do keep in mind that you can also use them to pull better and more useful equipment for the job too.

This is what implement carrier tractors are for, as they can easily carry specialized equipment around from destination to destination. They can pull anything you want actually, including rotary sweepers, drills and plows.

You can quickly tell if you’re dealing with a carrier tractor simply based on the extended chassis you can see between the back and forward tires.

While most carrier tractors are quite large, you can also find them in smaller sizes, so always look for one that perfectly suits your needs.

If you have a larger farm for example you may want to invest in a larger implement carrier tractor and if you have a smaller farm, you shouldn’t be investing into one that is too large to actually operate it on land.

11. Compact Tractors

Compact Tractor

Compact tractors are small agricultural tractors that are primarily meant to be used by homeowners either on their own properties or on small farms.

Because of how small they are, they actually make for the perfect vehicle to use on small acreages. They can be maneuvered around quite easily too and they can fit in small and narrow places too.

They come with a 540-rpm PTO for the most part, and as is common for most farm tractors, compact tractors use a three-point hitch.

As such, you shouldn’t expect your compact tractor to have over 50 horsepower, and for the most part you can only really attach light-weight attachments such as blades, scrapers and tillers to them.

Compact tractors, as the name implies, usually weigh under 2,000lbs each, and they can lift as much as 1,000lbs, although this heavily depends on the model you opt for of course.

They’re mostly used for snow removal, landscaping and hauling and pulling equipment and materials for small land projects. Needless to say, you shouldn’t opt for a compact tractor if you have a fairly sized farm to take care of.

12. Sub-Compact Tractors

Sub Compact Tractor

As the name implies, sub-compact tractors are compact tractors that come in an even smaller package. They can be used for all of the same purposes as compact tractors, but they do have a smaller frame and are typically a lot more affordable.

They’re very easy to steer and they are perfect for first-time tractor owners that want to get started and they don’t have any experience with heavy-duty vehicles.

They are perfect for everyday tasks such as mowing lawns or landscaping. They can be used with a whole slew of different attachments and they are very easy to drive and steer.

Sub-compact tractors are considered to be the best choice for hobby farming enthusiasts, as they have a small and lightweight frame which makes them easy to store and take care of.

At the same time, they can be used to mow small areas and haul/tow loads around. They are not capable of pulling the same loads that compact tractors could, but they can still get the job done.

13. Backhoe Loader Tractors

Backhoe Load Tractor
Photo by Reed Uhlman / Wikipedia.org

If you want to invest everything you have into a vehicle that will help you regardless of what you need it for, then you have got to go for a backhoe loader tractor.

But what makes this the superior tractor type? Well, a backhoe loader has a front-end loader on one side and a digger on its back, making it perfect for any and all projects, including construction and fence installation.

It is by far the best working vehicle you could go for if you want to do landscaping or if you want to dig manufactured ponds on your farms.

Backhoe loader tractors are very strong and easy to drive around in too, and while steering is a bit on the slower end, they are strong enough to break through rocks with ease so you’ll never have to worry about repairing it anytime soon.

So, if you want to make any adjustment to the roads on your property, you can’t go wrong with a backhoe loader tractor.

14. Specialty Tractors

Specialty Tractor

Specialty tractors are designed to be perfect for unique operations. In fact, it would be wrong to say that this type of tractor can only be used for one or two tasks, as it is entirely dependent on the final product.

Specialty tractors are devised to perfectly handle difficult dimensions and challenging environments that most other typical tractors couldn’t perform.

Like for example, if you have to steer around in tight corners or if you need to do your work on rough terrain, specialty tractors will be a lot more helpful than any other type of tractor.

They come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, including wheeled and tracked, 2-wheel and 4-wheelers and of course, taller or shorter tops to make sure that you can reach higher places with ease.

Specialty tractors also separate into three different subtypes, and they are the following:

  • Narrow tractors – Narrow tractors are meant to be used in tight spaces. They are very easy to maneuver and they can make it through extremely narrow areas of land while also pulling a decent load behind them.
  • Crawler tractors – Crawler tractors have, as the name implies, roller belts or tracks instead of wheels. This makes them better for rough ground conditions.
  • Low-profile tractors – These low profile tractors are usually smaller when it comes to their width and height, which makes them perfect for hard-to reach spaces.

15. Tow Tractors

Tow Tractors

Last but not least we have tow tractors. These vehicles are also known as tuggers, and they are only used in towing loads.

They are considered to be heavy-duty industrial tractors and they can easily pull large loads in factories and open spaces.

They can also be used with crane booms if you want to, but for the most part they are only really used by big companies to tug stuff behind them.

You will most often times find tow tractors in airports, as there are plenty of heavy-duty items that need to be pulled around there and there is no other type of tractor that is as fast and easy to maneuver with this much pulling power attached to it.


Types of Tractors
Photo by Randy Fath / unsplash.com

There are a lot more tractor types and models we have yet to mention on this list, and for good reason too. These are the main picks that most people think of when they think of tractors, but you can get way more specialized tractors if you need them.

So, before you make your choice, make sure that you write a list of every task you’d need it to do for you, so you never end up making a mistake.

You can look through how much power you need, and if you really need that big of a vehicle to work around your farm after all.

Most of the time, a versatile mid-range tractor will be perfect to get the job done, which is why there are so many of them on the market right now.

You can easily find attachments for them too, and if you are a bit strapped for cash, there are plenty of models that will still suit your needs while also not burning through your wallet in the process.

But regardless of whether you’re digging holes or if you’re making crop rows, you should know that tractors will always make for a critical piece of farming equipment that you’ll never run out of uses for.

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About Sven Eliasson

Sven worked at a beef cattle operation dedicated to the ethical treatment of animals. He also has a passion for regenerative methods of pasture management and promotes sustainable farming practices. Learn more about Agronomag's Editorial Process.

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